We had one film release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.
Top Gun: Maverick
Much has changed since the original Top Gun came out in theaters 36 years ago. At that time, director Tony Scott’s film tapped into the burgeoning celebrity of Tom Cruise to cruise to a $180 million box office tally. That would be equivalent to over $464 million in today’s box office dollars. Then, the film opened to $8.2 million ($21.1 million today) and spent more than 35 weeks in release. Its success led to four Oscar nominations (Original Song, Film Editing, Sound, and Sound Effects Editing). It took the prize for Original Song.
Today, box office tallies are heavily frontloaded. Top Gun: Maverick topped $124 million for the weekend and will probably play for roughly 20 weeks at the box office. Cruise also has three decades under his belt. The big question is whether or not the Oscars have changed enough since the 1980s to change the calculus for nominations. Powered by an original song from Lady Gaga, the film seems sure to compete in three of the four original categories it was nominated in (the fourth, sound effects editing, is now defunct).
Where it could possibly differ is the Best Picture race. In the 1980s, popular films weren’t exempt from the top category, but they were expected to be a lot more thematically hefty than films like Top Gun. Nowadays, some of that reticence has faded and blockbusters that aren’t critical successes can still make through, but not terribly often. It’s probably good then that Top Gun: Maverick is one of the best reviewed films of the year so far. That will definitely enhance its Best Picture potential. That said, the Academy isn’t a huge fan of sequels and franchises and that alone might destroy its chances. We’ll just have to see if the buzz can hold up through the end of the year.